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The Design Team of Ten.

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Welcome back to our Design at Scale – Academy series, focusing on the design practice in a team of ten. Before we step into the shoes of any designers joining the team of ten, let's look at what this series offers and how you can benefit from it.

Landscape analysis

Prior to the physical design phase, we must understand the environment in which we will operate. It's, therefore, vital for any designer joining the team to know whether the team is playing the supportive, creative, imaginative, or integration function. The following four different scenarios are relevant to you as a designer. If you are joining the team and you are new to the game, I recommend you look around and ask yourself the following questions: 

Why am I here, and what role do I play in this specific outfit? 

It would not be harmful to grab a product owner, scrum master, developer, solution architect or any team colleague and ask these questions: 

How best do you serve this particular team?

Roles and responsibilities

Your discussion will inevitably evolve where your counterparts start describing the roles and responsibilities. Remember that the roles are different from the duties. The roles are given to the people who need to fulfil a specific function in a particular time and space. The responsibilities go beyond these functions and are not necessarily a variable reflection of the role but more of a person's character. With that in mind, your role as a designer is to provide design outputs responsible for a specific business outcome. 

Therefore, your responsibilities are beyond the output but more towards the outcome. Make sure that you understand your role and who you deliver to because then and only then can you start succeeding in the designer role. 

Network

The previously mentioned “network” will be helpful when everything you learned in the first series becomes applicable to this team. Start taking the benefits of your already gained knowledge by religious observation of the area, your team and its network. Treat it as a family – respect it, honour it and build the relationships that help you succeed at work and beyond the office walls. Draw your conclusion from the previous discussion with your colleagues. You will get to the point where you understand the initial chemistry between the developers, designers, product owners, and scrum masters. This will allow you to reach the point that you can draw a so-called “Map of the Pyrenees” (do not worry, we’ll explain in detail in one of the later articles). This map allows you to navigate people's emotions, desires and hidden agendas beyond the daily tasks and deliverables. Allowing you to navigate daily challenges with the ease and impact you seek. 

Thought leader

This gives you the unique perspective of becoming a thought leader within the team regardless of whether you are a junior, midweight or senior designer. It does not mean that other people cannot have opinions. Certainly, but you are there to provide the facts and learnings that lead to informed design decisions. That's why your role is to describe the impact of the design rather than function. We’ll look at how you should position yourself as a thought leader and overcome the obstacles of being just the designer in a corner compared to becoming a thought leader who navigates through the design challenges for this very specific team or organisation.

Daily routines

As with anything in life, you build a routine, and the routine builds you. It's inevitable to stand out. In order to create the routine that works for you, there is no point in creating thousands of different interactions where neither one of them will impact your journey. That's why we have team routines and your design routines. Between the team routines, you can count daily stand-up meetings with the developers, meetings with the product owners' research analysis, gathering lunch and coffee, and most importantly, show and tell. The routines will set you apart from other team members or the business. These routines allow you to create value for others. That is the only way you’ll become unbeatable in any product design team worldwide.

Project Management

Project management is one of the critical parts of the design function. You have to understand how things are done and why they are done in this particular way. Several people will tell you that agile does this and design does that. While “design thinking” does something else, most importantly, it combines all these functions to create a comprehensive framework that works for this team. Well, 274 design methods have been around for over two decades, and neither one team has figured out how to join them.
That's why we collaborated and coined the  Design at Scale™ to help designers navigate these interactions, handovers and specific nuances between the outcomes and outputs, how they communicate between the different parties, how they handle these handovers and how to become a master of making your point as a thought leader, but also as a manager of design function.

Eyes on Release. 

Let's face it. You are not here because you are pretty or have an expensive laptop or stylish Oliver’s People glasses. You are here to deliver something that no one else can. Be proud of it; you are the only design maker here. 

All your relationships and intentions must get you closer to release. You are the only one that will hold the end-to-end experience. Your understanding of every pixel, click, navigation, button, or anything related to human behaviour with the product or the system is in your hands. If you don't master it, you become a designer puppet. That's why you have to have an “eye on the release”; therefore, your understanding of the product goes beyond the design, technology, customer integration or impact. 

Sense and Response.

I tried to find a better wording for this, but the “sense and the response” are the best I could come up with, which also confirms the significant findings and summary in a fantastic book by Jeff Gothelf. There are several ways to describe the adaptability to constant change. Your role depends on many people, and many people depend on you. That is an inevitable challenge of a business: time, budget, personal and interpersonal relationships, people leaving and coming from the team, and constant adjustment to the situation that you are in. That's why you, as a designer, must have a great sense of robustness and understand that change is only constant in this game. Your response defines what type of designer you’ll become, whether you build a great product or complain about colleagues, budget, time, etc.

The Power of One. 

Last, we will look into the “Power of One” proposition. The essence power of one combines four main pillars, looking at the product design development through very specific lenses – one language, one location, one team, and one product.
We will look at “One Language” and how this substantially impacts the product team and its trajectory. Equally, how is the technical part of “One Location”, and how does it change the communication patterns and strengthen the delivery pipeline to define the release? This is followed by “One Method”, where everybody agrees and follows from the initiation to the final delivery, strengthening one team. And finally, the “One Product” defines the common effort of the team and the business to impact the world and solve a particular problem.

Come and join me in this series to become a better designer on a team. We offer the three-hour courses in Design at Scale™ – Academy, where you can get tailored answers to your own team—followed by the support community that addresses the very challenges of the scale

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Tagged: agile · coaching · collaboration · cx · dastm · design · designatscale · designer2designer · framework · madebyhuman · management · mentoring · Method · organisations · process · scale · sme · startup · ux · ways_of_working
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